The old platitude is that when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. There’s also the counterweight of doing what you love as a career may make you love it a bit less. Now, each bit of advice has a semblance of truth to them. Now one may (erroneously) mistake the first ideation as romantic and the second as pessimistic. I think both are two sides of the same coin. In the tertiary episode of Birdgirl [Adult Swim] titled “Thirdgirl”, we find out that Fitzgerald was right saying a “…sentimental person thinks things will last, a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t.”
We open in on Gillian (Kether Donohue) at her desk, reflecting on how steadfast a gatekeeper she is as Birdgirl’s assistant. Her inner voice rings of conviction and pride. When Judy beckons Gillian about her vegan gumbo having tomatoes in it, she’s also reminded that she has to pull double duty being the CEO’s assistant as well.
Behind that closed door, flanked by Charlie (Lorelei Ramirez), Meredith (Negin Farsad), and Dog with a Bucket Hat (John Doman), Judy (Paget Brewster) realizes that Sebben & Sebben is still half a million short. Having sold already two of their four plants (since nobody will buy Eastfield), Charlie gets on the horn with Yuri to sell off Eastfield, a plant so far in the boondocks, Charlie labels it East “Assburg.” Since Yuri’s willing to buy, game on!
The only snag is they are still twelve Lincolns short of making the cut. Hark! That’s when they hear Gillian opening a can next to Sir Peter Pants (Birdcat out of costume). Surprised that he is on the company dime (after mistaking it for her) the canine executive is attacked by Sir Peter after making some disparaging comments on his weight. Judy crunches the numbers in switching the cat’s food to dry and that balances the budget back to zero!
This is good news because the company’s been alight with rumors of layoffs, due to Judy claiming at the 2020 Initiative Announcement that there would be “staff changes,” not being acutely aware of the euphemism. Judy wants no part in laying people off, as she wants to be the “good CEO” and according to Mer, Judy won’t have to so long as they stay stringent on the ‘ass-clenchingly’ tight balance sheet, but just then an anomaly presents itself- Gillian. This will come back to haunt her.
Judy is keen on her inner sanctum knowing the truth… just not everybody. This doesn’t jibe with Gillian. She fears that if the world knows, people may claim a false injury on her, putting all of Sebben & Sebben at risk. Hey, at least she’s thinking of the bigger picture, even if her boss isn’t sweating it. In fact, there are internet sites dedicated to connecting the dots Judy’s aware of.
Gillian takes a great sense of pride and duty in pulling her weight, packing Birdcat up and driving him home at the end of the day (in a really cute sidecar I might add) as Birdgil dispenses her nocturnal thrashings, even when it blows up in her face (much like a massive blue dye pack from a successfully thwarted robbery).
Once Birdgirl arrives at home, she is greeted by Gillian, who is tasked with feeding Birdcat with his new dry food (which is only apparently good enough for him to sit on and ultimately flip over). After the well-meaning assistant serenades her boss to sleep with a soft guitar instrumental, she leaves for her own apartment.
What’s the secret to Gillian’s success in pulling double duty? ENERGY (in the form of an ingestible oil).
Once alone, Birdcat slinks into action with his own adventures (show): Touched By A Birdcat. During one of the exploits (nee episodes), Birdcat interlopes when a family accuses their dad of being a drunkard. Knocking over the bottle and the glass, Birdcat starts a fire with the spilled liquor. As the flames are fanned, country star Caleb Lee Hutchinson appears guitar in hand to affirm that he will always be there for the family. Birdcat exits as the house burns, with all in it. All in a day’s work.
In the office, a hurried Gillian greets everyone, on the way to her own. Hunchbacked due to Birdgirl’s costume in the Birdgirl digs she’s harboring, she creates a diversion before jetting it into the office. Boy, keeping a secret can be stressful. That’s why Alfred fucking works from home.
Starting off the day with yet another drop of ENERGY before greeting her boss, things are looking UP! for Gillian… or maybe not.
Charlie confronts Judy about firing her vaunted assistant, as her O.T. hours are putting the company in the red. Birdgirl needs her to work those hours so Judy can stay sane, but Meredith’s solution to hire another assistant to divest the workload reads better; a new hire is actually cheaper than paying O.T. for an existing one.
Pulling in with Crudités, and before Judy can finish her reason for asking her to sit down, Gillian nervously lights up… a celery stick. They want to ameliorate her workload for normal business hours with a new night assistant. With surprising immediacy, Gillian is on board and vows to pick the perfect candidate.
In her stable of potentials behind a plate of glass, she writes everybody off, until she sees a perfect choice: her reflection. That is not to say that a creepy dude name Benjy isn’t interested in the position. With a weird face, icky voice, and what looks to be a prodigious bulge in his pants (which Gillian asserts is just stacked pubes), the job was never his to lose.
At the Sebben residence, Gillian interviews the new night assistant…. Gennifer. Even though this is simply her in a blonde wig with glasses and a British accent, Birdgirl knows not the difference. The thing is Gennifer is only a few steps from taking over.
The next morning, the completely worse for wear Gillian wakes up, complete with two bags under her eyes and one crack in her skin that no amount of foundation can conceal. Yet, she proceeds into the office, running down the events for Judy, including her keynote address at Harley Davidson Hogs For a Female Cause and the Women In Business Male Empowerment Seminar (Propping Up Men Since 1995).
Meredith and Charlie approach Judy with the newest numbers. It turns out productivity is way down because too many people are worried about not getting laid off, which inevitably leads to layoffs. Meredith is all about layoffs, but Judy is still reticent about it or any mind taking Mer’s part.
Her game plan is to attend the events, presenting a positive view of Sebben & Sebben While Meredith holds a ‘listening tour’ which consists of making employees talk so much they forget about the layoffs, but in an organic way (no bwee-oop). Lastly, Gillian is Gennifer are both to be at the motorcycle event so Judy can vacillate betwixt Birdgirl’ing and CEO’ing. After snorting a hit of ENERGY, Gillian goes to fucking woik.
At the Jiffy DQ Lube (free waffle cone with every oil change!), a boyfriend tries to convince his girlfriend to steal from the register, but just as the register opens, Birdcat takes a stand by laying on the tray. This gives the girlfriend the confidence to give her boyfriend the what-for, casting him out of the store and out of her life. Another day, another not dollar for Birdcat, as he’s back on the road doing god’s work.
At her listening tour, Meredith sits down with Brian and Paul. Sitting down with pads and pluma in front of them, Meredith wants all to be divulged without her assistance. Paul (Tony Hale) gets angry and tosses his pen down while Brian (Rob Delany) is convinced this is about the layoffs, asserting he’s not at risk because he’s a protected class (ie white). Paul’s like, FUCK IT! They both leave, and while this isn’t an exact win for Mer, it’s not a total loss either.
In a surveillance van outside of the motorcycle event, Gillian pow-wows with her alter-self about the night’s schedule. She has eyes hooked up to Judy’s apartment as well as the venue itself. Synchronizing her watches to pull off the impossible, Gennifer meets with Birdgirl behind the Chocolate Abyss (bottomless fondue pot) in order to feed Birdgirl her evening dress for Judy, and Judy meets up with Gillian for a flash drive drop-off that contains her headshot.
The only unforeseen snag in that operation though is that Benjy makes an appearance, throwing off Gillian/Gennifer’s exacting schedule. This causes Gillian to flounder, but it’s too late. Judy is announced with the wrong headshot used (that one linking Judy to Birdgirl) and given a jumble of pages.
No time to damage manage though, since the keynote speaker is already up on stage, riding up to the podium on a hog, and proceeding to royally eat it on stage, mis-projecting the money raised for female causes, bombing on a few jokes, and citing Gillian’s notation about layoffs. She blames the fumes about the stage on the disembodied laughter of a solitary person. That was hilarious.
In the follow-up press conference to assure there are no layoffs, Judy proceeds to cite the word itself a record 82 times. She is pissed. All suggest there should be an additional assistant in Benjy. Gillian comes back dressed as Benjy. Judy accepts.
A montage ensues of the triumvirate Gillian/Gennifer/Benjy playing fast and loose, working 9-5, 5-9, and 9-9, all made possible by the ungodly consumption of ENERGY oils. This includes keeping the real Benjy in her bathtub, chained up with the shower running. Oh, it’s come to that. She is spreading herself thinner than Paris Hilton, and the cracks are beginning to show- literally.
Judy and Charlie demand to have all three assistants in her office be on the same page. This causes a beleaguered Gillian outside the office to pound all of the tinctures at once for BIG TIME assistant energy.
Now she’s face to face with a really pissed off Charlie, Judy and a still chained up Benjy. The jig is up, but she wants nothing to do with this intervention, so once Judy recommends Gillian use her 5 months unused vacation time, the homunculus emerges from within. With three heads and four arms, this Akira/Cronenburg analogue mistakes this caring for firing.
In a more wholesome setting, Birdcat returns to the scene of the (crime?) as the family is going to lose their fire-ravaged out. However, the felonious (?) feline reveals their wealth in a hidden safe, its contents including 40 pounds of dry-aged wagyu beef, the real missing dead sea scrolls, a Ferrari, and the forgotten Klimpt painting.
Birdcat, as he is wont to do, sets fire to the couch with Caleb Lee Hutchinson once again appearing as the house completely blows up, family and all.
As monster Gillian wreaks havoc on city stores for her assistant finery, she picks Birdcat up just to take him home. Duty never sleeps… or does it?
Birdgirl finds Gillian feeding the cat before she completely crashes and as she carries her up for a nice shower, brushing of the teeth, her day is done. After a nice purging of all of that toxic sludge in her system, Gillian can finally sleep and take that vacation.
Good news for Judy! They are now half a million in the black, as many of the employees quit after seeing what working for Judy what do to someone… with Benjy as a temporary replacement, Gillian is going to be wanted back pretty soon.
Overall, this episode was absurdist and truthful at the same time. I’ve been in Gillian’s mentality in my own life at times and you just can’t do it all. It will invariably turn you toxic not to others but to your own self.